The Tragedy and the Glory

The Tragedy and the Glory

THE SPANISH CIVIL. WAR, by Hugh Thomas. Harper and Brothers. 1961. 720 pp.

In broad outline, the popular view of the Spanish Civil War has not been disturbed by historical research. On the establishment of the Republic in 1931 successive governments began to make slow, if belated, efforts to bring Spain into the mainstream of Europe by raising the living level of workers and peasants, by extending educational opportunities for the fifty per cent of the population who were illiterate, and by lossening the grip of the conservative Catholic Church. It was against these meager reforms, instituted by popularly-elected governments, that right-wing forces, frightened by strikes and workers’ demonstrations, revolted in 1936. Insured in advance of aid from Mussolini, and later by Hitler, the Spanish rebels, led by Franco and his colleagues, emerged victorious in a crusade of restoration that has left Spanish workers and peasants as impoverished and bitter as they were when the revolt began.

In the course of the Civil War, about 600,000 men, women and children were killed and soldiers on both sides showed reckless courage, anachronistic heroism, cowardice, and mindless cruelty. Few commentators failed to note that th...

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